Can the Oakland A’s Win the AL West?

Although the game is under protest by the Oakland A’s and manager Bob Melvin, as it stands now, the LA Angels own a 4-3, 10th inning walk-off win against their division rivals. This translates to an 80-53 record for the Angels and a two-game lead over the A’s at 78-55.

The game is under protest due to a ninth inning obstruction call that went against Oakland and was upheld by umpire Greg Gibson and crew chief Gerry Davis. Howie Kendrick collected the game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly in the 10th off A’s reliever Ryan Cook (1-2).

The A’s did put up quite a fight in the game, typical of their outstanding season. After struggling through the first three innings, staff ace Sonny Gray retired the next 12 batters to finish with seven innings, allowing three runs off six hits and three walks. Gray’s season record is an impressive 13-7 with 3.03 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 178 innings pitched.

But the A’s are struggling as a team since the All Star break. They are 19-19 since the break and have lost 11 of their last 17. The A’s still maintain a 5-1/2 game lead on the top Wild Card spot over Detroit and Seattle. LA has won seven of ten and appear to be the hot team right now, although the loss of staff ace Garrett Richards could diminish their chances of staying on top.

Although the acquisition of starter John Lester from Boston has certainly improved the A’s pitching staff and their team overall, the loss of Yoenis Cespedes has hurt the offense. In 24 games with the Red Sox, Cespedes is batting .280 with four doubles, four home runs and 20 RBI’s. Although not staggering numbers by any stretch, the A’s could use his bat right now.

Derek Norris is leading the team offensively with a .270 BA. Josh Donaldson is leading in power numbers with 26 homers and 88 RBI’s, but is only batting .255. The offense will have to pick it up in September to support the pitching staff if they want to challenge the Angels for the AL West crown.

Clock’s Ticking on Boston’s Best Trade Option

It’s no secret: Since Theo Epstein went on a shopping spree overspending on Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez after the 2011 season, the Red Sox have been hesitant to give any players a long term deal. It’s a bit understandable because of the situation the Red Sox were in until the Dodgers bailed them out, but if there’s anybody worth giving out a large contract to, it’s Jon Lester.

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We’ve heard about it all season long. The Red Sox went to Lester, low-balled him, and negotiations went nowhere. According to reports, Lester wants a guaranteed 6 years from the Red Sox. By the time that contract were to end, Lester would be 36 years old. It’s old for a baseball player, but Lester has never had any major injuries before that have caused him to miss much time.

In parts of 9 seasons, Lester has 110 career wins, and his worst year was the dreadful Bobby Valentine year of 2012 when he only had 9 wins. Sure that year he showed his frustration and didn’t become the stopper that a club needs, but it’s hard to fault him because he had a clown as a manager.

I’ve also heard fans and experts talk about the Red Sox trading Lester this week, or letting him walk after the year and signing Max Scherzer. Scherzer has told the Tigers he is going to test the Free Agent market, but it just doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox to go with Scherzer over Lester. The two aces are the same age, and yes Scherzer has won a Cy Young award, but Lester has proven he has what it takes to play in the AL East, which up until this season, was the toughest division to pitch in.

If Lester wants the 6 years, Cherington needs to buck up and give him that deal. Sure maybe those final two years will be a bust, but it’s the price you need to pay to get a great pitcher in his prime. You see the Yankees doing it all the time with guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, and that’s not a good thing to constantly do, but with a pitcher as special as Lester, you have got to pay that price.

The theory that Lester will be traded for some prospects by the trading deadline and then sign with the Red Sox after the season is absolutely LUDICROUS!! It’s like a couple who is fighting and somebody is leaving the house: IF YOU LEAVE, THAT’S IT. THERE’S NO COMING BACK!

If Cherington does trade Lester, all hope with Lester on the Red Sox in the future is over, and the rebuild will offically begin for the franchise.